Last year, when we went to this conference, it was a LOT of work for me. This year, I have been determined to make it easier. Unfortunately, I think all the advance preps that I think are necessary to make it easier for me while we are there are tiring me out so much that I may not be awake next week!
Our family isn't a fan of big conferences, and all I know of are out of our price range anyways. The two events that we seem to have settled on as our yearly treks are ARGH (Autodidactic Radical Gathering of Homeschoolers) in the beautiful mountains of Eastern Tennessee and Shine in the Catskills here in New York. I think the problem with Shine is that ARGH somewhat spoiled me. Not the gathering itself, but the wonderful cabins complete with linens and kitchenware all at a super reasonable price! We pay more to go to Shine, and we get what they call a 2 room cabin which is really one room with a section with 2 bunks beds in it separated off by a curtain. The cabin is tiny, the bunks are tiny, there is electricity, but we really need to bring everything we need with us.
Note, Shine is a wonderful conference, and there really isn't anything like the state parks in Tennessee or Virginia up here in the Northeast. Shine is such a wonderful gathering that after it last year, everyone in our family went on and on about how great it was, and I was left wondering why it fell short for me, and I knew it was the work. The meal prep, the dishes, the cleaning, the trying to keep six people organized in a very tiny space. It wasn't that everyone else didn't try to help. It was more that those sorts of things are my responsibility in our family, and it was a lot. This year, I am hoping for it somehow to be a little easier. I shall see!
Now, about going away and food. ARGH and Shine are the most difficult times of the year for Diana and me, even more difficult than the holiday season. There are food events, with lots of different foods, and not much in the low carb category. Also, Diana loves trying ALL the desserts at potlucks. Even when we are not at group eating things, we are more limited in our food choices to what we have brought and feel like preparing (which is usually nothing.) In spite of these difficulties, I thought I'd give a few tips on eating better while vacationing.
1. Pre-portion snack foods. This helps so much! If things like crackers and nuts are in individual serving size bags, we eat a lot less.
2. Have a plan, but don't be slaves to it. I find it works best if I plan food for each eating occasion, and then we change everything and eat what we want when we want. Simply having the plan ensures that we have foods from all the different categories that we should be eating with us. Letting go of it, keeps us from feeling stifled while we are there, and lets us enjoy the flow of the actual event.
3. Cook some things ahead of time. This year, I am cooking all the meat that we plan on eating next week before we go so we only need to heat it up. I am also going to bake some healthy things like homemade breakfast bars that we can grab and go.
4. Limit eating in the car. We think of meals and snacks on the road as times to stop, get some exercise, eat, and then resume our journey. Eating in the car, just leads to mindless nonstop eating so we try to avoid it if at all possible.
5. Don't bring a lot of healthy treats with you. The truth is you are going to end up eating some less healthy treats. You are on vacation. It is going to feel like a time to make exceptions. We find that if we bring "healthy treats", we eat the healthy treats and then the less healthy treats too eating twice as much! It is better to just have the real treat and save the healthier treats for another time when we are more on track.
6. Don't use eating more poorly while on vacation as an excuse to give up all hope of eating better when you get home. This is probably the most important piece of advice. When you are home, make a point of going back to your healthy ways right away. Bring home the relaxation and new ideas from your vacation, but leave the less healthy eating habits behind.